'All class': Ash Barty's brilliant act for embarrassed ball girl at Australian Open

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

It was only a small gesture, but one that shows why Ash Barty is so adored by the Australian public.

The World No.1 momentarily stopped play on Monday night at the Australian Open when a ball girl suffered an embarrassing tumble on Rod Laver Arena.

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In front of a packed centre court crowd, the young girl stumbled and hit the deck while retrieving a ball near Barty.

Ash Barty stopped to check on the ball girl. Image: Channel Nine

About to serve, Barty immediately stopped and asked the ball girl if she was alright before continuing.

The young girl was clearly a bit red-faced as the cameras spotted her reaction, but Barty’s kind act would have surely made up for it.

Barty overcomes hiccup to advance

Barty felt the result was never in doubt as she recovered from first-set stumble to steam into the second round.

While the packed crowd held their collective breath as Barty dropped the first set against Ukrainian veteran Lesia Tsurenko, Barty said she was in full control.

And she certainly looked it in the remaining two sets, responding in ruthless fashion to run away with a 5-7 6-1 6-1 victory.

The 23-year-old, who is bidding for her first title at Melbourne Park, was the only Australian to book a victory in a rain-interrupted day one.

"I think in the first set, it was still in my control," Barty said.

"I think I was pressing a little bit early and I made a few too many errors but I was able to tighten the screws in the second set and run away with it."

Ashleigh Barty celebrates her victory. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

Tsurenko put up a strong challenge given she'd hardly played in the past year due to an elbow injury, which saw her ranking slump from a career-high world No.23 to 120.

The pair traded multiple breaks through the first set although Barty only showed her frustration once, remonstrating with her box as Tsurenko served to wrap it up.

"I was frustrated that I wasn't hitting the ball in the court when I wanted to," Barty said.

"I think I was aiming for big targets and missing by quite a bit, which I wasn't comfortable with, so being able to kind of rectify that and fix that so quickly at the start of the second set was really important."

Barty's fightback has become a trademark, last year racking up an unrivalled 13 victories from a set down en route to her No.1 status and French Open crown.

"Knowing that I've come back from being a set down in many matches is good, although I'd prefer not to be in that situation," Barty said.

with AAP